2021 Goals – What is my Focus?

Hand holding a camera lens with an autumnal background | What is my focus for 2021
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I was never one for making New Year resolutions, because I could never keep them. Discipline has never been my strong suit 🙂 So what was the point of making resolutions that I can’t keep?

But waking up one morning in January 2018 in a cold sweat, in a panic over my ability (or lack thereof) to retire, changed that mindset forever, I hope. I only had one thing to accomplish that year, the year I turned 47.

All I wanted to do was “sort out my finances”. How vague is that?

From that one simple goal though, I read The Barefoot Investor in one afternoon , in one sitting. I discovered the FIRE community and went down the rabbit hole of reading personal finance blogs and listening to podcasts. Mind you, I had NEVER read a blog or listened to a podcast before. I didn’t even trust recipes on the internet! Oh, how far have I come, haha! By the end of 2018, I had my own blog …

And yes, I began sorting out my finances. By the end of 2018, I had consolidated two superannuation accounts, switched super fund from REST to Hostplus, started saving an Emergency Fund and importantly restarted salary sacrificing into super and investing in a share portfolio again. I started tracking my expenses and cut out the easy things first eg the takeaway cappuccino and lunch at work.

And I haven’t looked back since. Every year, I’ve built on what was started in 2018.

So I understand the power of setting goals.

And a pandemic is not going to stop me from setting goals for 2021.

I need direction, something to aim for, something to look forward to, something to celebrate.

Too many goals, no focus?

But I am guilty of wanting to accomplish many things all at once. I also love multi tasking. Putting coffee on the stove, stacking or unstacking the dishwasher plus eating toast at the same time. Zoom meeting? Start the dishwasher. You get the drift.

Then I listened to Afford Anything episode #293 – The One Question That Makes Everything Easier, with Geoff Woods. It was so good I listened to it twice! He talks about the principles in the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and debunks 6 productivity myths, one of which is multitasking.

Apparently, you waste 28% of your time when you multitask and to put it in a 5 day work week context, multitasking wastes 2.4 days. Wow!

And I learned that it is ok to have many goals but I have to be ruthless in prioritisation of these goals and habits.

The question I need to ask is “What is the ONE THING that I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The reason why it’s taken me so long to write this post is because I struggle with focusing on only one thing. I kept asking myself – but which is the FIRST thing you want to focus on?

There is so much I want to do in 2021, despite often not having the energy. I slept a lot in 2020 and by the looks of 2021, the pattern continues.

I have 4 goals in 2021 and I will drill down with each one to the smallest task / habit to make achieving the final result easier.

But I will also focus on establishing one habit at a time, do things sequentially, do one thing at a time. Once I’ve mastered the first one, I then have permission to move on to the next habit.

So my phrase for 2021 is ‘One thing at a time’.

My decade goals have not changed – retire at 55, visit Antarctica and run a marathon.

My goals for 2021 will help to get me there.

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1. Create another income stream

Apparently successful millionaires have 7 streams of income.

Me? (disclaimer – not a successful millionaire … yet) – I have two income streams.

My major source of income is from my full time job. Because of burnout a few years ago, I transitioned to a lower paying role with less responsibilities. I am far happier and less stressed. I am therefore wary of creating side hustles that will impinge on my new work life ‘balance’.

However, 2020 was a trying year. It was scary seeing how forces outside of our control eg a pandemic or government response to said pandemic, which I 100% support – can mean loss of jobs and livelihood for so many people overnight.

While I still have a job, my workplace has to respond to less customers and revenue. We haven’t replaced anyone who has left. Fingers crossed, things will improve and we actually start hiring again.

So … it’s time to look for an additional source of income. Not to replace my full time job, but to supplement it. It just seems prudent.

Plus I want to visit Antarctica, which is COSTLY!

My second income stream is from dividends from my share portfolio. It amounted to around $5000 in 2020, all of which was reinvested. This will continue to grow slowly over time.

The most obvious source of another income stream is from this blog. I already spend the majority of my free time here, besides the amount of time I spend sleeping and reading. Obvious but not easy. There is so much to learn about monetizing a blog.

Plus I really hope I can continue blogging after I retire – I will need something to get me out of bed. Although I’m sure I will spend the first 6 months after retirement, living in my bed – I love my sleep ins. The blog will be a bonus (and my safety net) if I also earn an income from it. The truth, though is I would still do it even if it doesn’t earn a cent.

2. Invest $30000 in shares portfolio

I missed last year’s goal of investing $25k by $1800. So if I add that $1800 to $25k and stretch it … I arrive at $30k.

It should absolutely be doable especially since I reduced my salary sacrificing into superannuation (retirement account). I know it is much more tax advantaged if I salary sacrifice into super. My super contributions are taxed at 15% whereas I will pay 34.5% (includes Medicare levy) otherwise.

But I need to build up my ‘bridge the gap’ fund if I am to achieve my decade goal of retiring at 55. I can’t access my super fund till 60. So I will just pay the tax and invest outside of super.

Because by my calculation, my super balance should grow to my target by the time I am 60 without me contributing anything extra and just relying on my employer’s contribution. I will monitor annually and readjust my strategy if needed.

3. Lose 10kg

Let me tell you a secret – pandemic eating and menopause is not a good combination. Seriously!

My weight has been increasing every year and I am now the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I can’t fit into my clothes! And I refuse to buy more. So the time has come to focus on losing weight, not just wish it aloud and moan about it with my mates.

I know 10kg is a stretch goal. The minute I put a number on it, I gave in to my craving to have fish and chips.

But I have committed to walking every evening with my friend after work, weather permitting. And if the weather is not cooperating, I will run up and down my stairs (or something) for 30 minutes to increase my heart rate.

4. Be semi self sufficient in vegetables

This is for my mental health more than my hip pocket.

It is so satisfying watching something you plant, grow into something that you can then eat! I would love to be totally self sufficient but that is really a stretch goal. At the end of last year I bought 3 more wicking beds to increase my capacity.

I will learn how to plant from seeds – it was a disaster last year. Seedlings and seeds were out of stock as people decided to grow their own veggies. As a result, I didn’t plant my veggies at the right time. And my yield was not as good.

Looking after my veggie gardens also forces me outdoors. Which is a good thing as I spend too much time indoors and living a sedentary lifestyle.

Dwarf bean plant with lots of beans
My productive dwarf bean

But what is the ONE thing I need to focus on first?

Ah … this is where I have thought long and hard and got stuck.

Goal 2 is the easiest to achieve if my spending pattern remains the same as 2020. I have spoken to HR and once they adjust my salary sacrificing, I can increase my automatic deduction into my investment account. When it hits $4000, I will invest in VAS. Easy.

Goal 4 is in place – I just have to make sure I plant at the right time and continue to take care of them daily.

Goal 1 and 3 are more difficult to achieve.

In order to monetise my blog, I need to work on it. Since I work full time, I can work on the blog either before or after work. Generally, I find that I work better in the mornings before I go to work. This means I have to get up early eg 5am.

I HATE getting up early. And I hate my alarm – I used to press Snooze many many times before I get out of bed. Then I graduated to having a few alarm times eg 5am, 5.15am, 5.30am etc before finally rolling out of bed at 6am. Then I run out of time to do everything – stretch, work on the blog, get lunch ready, have breakfast, exercise etc.

So the One thing I need to focus on FIRST is my night routine.

At the moment, I am so tired after having dinner that I lie on my couch and fall asleep in front of the TV. The most I accomplish is making a cup of tea. Then I wake up groggily around midnight or 1am and head off to bed. Sometimes I sleep through but most nights I don’t. Then the alarm goes off at 5am. It’s a win if I get out of bed before 6am.

So … I’m going to focus on my night routine. Delay sitting on the couch after dinner until I’ve cut up my salad for the next day’s lunch, load or unload the dishwasher, get my exercise gear and work uniform ready etc. Set an alarm for 10.30pm and go to bed whether I’m tired or not.

The weekends are my downfall – I need to keep to the same routine so it doesn’t feel like I’m starting over every week. I often give myself permission to relax eg finish reading a book before doing my chores. Then I fall asleep on the couch … (maybe my one thing is to get rid of my couch … NO! I LOVE my couch, probably too much!)

So once I’ve got my night routine down pat, I will focus on my morning routine. Add a run somewhere in the week in addition to my evening walks after work with my friend.

Final Thoughts

That is the plan anyway!

Focusing on one thing at a time. Giving myself enough time to have a routine or habit be a habit. And only then will I move onto my next ‘thing’.

I’ll keep you informed as to my progress 🙂 I’m looking forward to extraordinary results, haha!

What is your One thing for 2021?

17 Replies to “2021 Goals – What is my Focus?”

  1. The marathon is by far the easiest thing on your list. In fact even if you’ve never run a single step you can easily compete a marathon in 24 weeks from today. Just google “couch to marathon training plan”. Plus it doesn’t conflict with anything else on your list so you don’t have to worry about it causing that pesky multitasking. I’ve run fifteen narathons and I started as a nonrunner. I also think the data shows millionaires typically have at least three sources of income while many do have more than three. If you own stocks, bonds and have savings in an interest bearing account then, counting your paycheck, you have four sources already.

    1. Fifteen marathons – that is amazing! I just googled “couch to marathon training plan” – wow, 24 weeks is incredible! I started and stopped the couch to 5k program several times in 2020 and basically gave up. Just accepting that it isn’t my season right now to train but I will at some stage. Though training would help me to lose that 10kg and be fit.

      Hmmm … I forgot about the interest bearing savings account – I do have this source of income. But it is tiny, seeing that interest rates have decreased progressively over the last year.

  2. Is this why you messaged me asking how much we need to save for Antarctica? LOL
    If we leave from South America we’ll need more, because we can’t go all that way and not see Easter Island and a bit of South America as well.
    If we leave from New Zealand then we’ll just have to pay for the airfare and Antarctica. I figure I can pop over to see NZ any time.
    So many options! 🙂

    1. Yes! I figured I needed a figure in my head to aim for plus also need to balance saving for Antarctica with investing in shares outside super. If I can create another income stream, it would go towards Antarctica. Worse case scenario, I’ll work an extra year 🙂

  3. You have inspired me Latestarterfire! Earlier today I thought I might commit to increasing my portfolio by only ten thousand this year, but now I think, “Why not twenty?”
    I too am looking at the necessity for multiple income streams, working on becoming an Ebay/online seller, selling stock photos, I’m basically open to exploring anything that might be viable. I work physically hard and retirement for me means to escape from hard physical work. I will still always be driven to hustle for a dollar, but I want to get away from selling off my life by the hour at a fixed rate. Though it still remains the most reliable source of Income at present, the problem is that we can’t create any more hours in a week and burnout becomes inevitable.
    Thanks for sharing so much of your journey with us.

    1. Welcome! I’m finally enjoying the challenge of creating multiple streams besides dividends from a share portfolio 🙂 It’s hard to balance between how much time I have to invest up front with the return I’d likely get but I guess that is the fun of it all. As long as we don’t get burnout 🙂 which I suppose if we guard against, we should be ok! Fingers crossed , anyway! Good luck with all your options 😉

  4. Like you I have to lose some weight this year. Our garden is a mess so in an effort to clean it up and get outside (and get some exercise) we started a You Tube channel which will force us to get outside and make it productive again. I’m hoping to eventually turn it into enough income to quit my full-time job. Started on the 28th December and now we’ve got 7 videos posted, 1 in progress and 1 scheduled for a couple of days to go live. My new greeting to work colleagues is “Like, Comment and Subscribe!” – lol. Baby steps … The keys are Frugal Living and Financial Independence. Would be grateful to have you all on board! “Project Frugal” – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0szmI1Noxunncv7M9B4FnQ

    1. Haha! You’ve certainly amped it up – launching a youtube channel to get your garden productive again 🙂 What an incentive! Good luck with it all!

  5. I’ve always wanted to read The One Thing, and now you’ve inspired me to finally do it! I think it could help me very much to focus when EVERYTHING is screaming to get done NOW.

    It makes me feel better that I’m not the only one who has a hard time with this! Your goals all sound reasonable to me (even the stretch goals). I look forward to following along and seeing how you progress on them this year.

    Best of luck to you, my friend, and may 2021 be a healthy, happy one for you!

    1. Thanks, Chrissy! Same to you, my friend 🙂
      I found my stretching exercise in the morning to be really helpful. While I’m stretching, I reflect on what I’m grateful for that day and then which one thing will I focus on for the rest of the day. It’s amazing the clarity I have first thing in the morning, before I get side tracked. Still waiting for the book to arrive

  6. I like the idea of focusing on one goal at a time. Multi-tasking doesn’t usually go very well for me and it’s exhausting! Gardening is something that’s been on my list forever and I just keep putting it off. You’re so right, it’s a great excuse to get outdoors.

    Best wishes with all your goals (one at a time) 😉

    1. I love multitasking because it feels like I’m efficient, juggling many tasks at once. But you are right, it is exhausting. In the end, I can only do so much before it all goes awry.
      Don’t put off gardening – I always thought it was too hard but it is so rewarding – especially when you get to eat your efforts 🙂
      All the best for your 2021 too!

  7. I heard that podcast as well. Really enjoyed it as well. Would be interested on your views of the book if you get around to reading it.

  8. I have found myself in a similar situation of trying to multi-task with my finances (trying to save for too many things at once) and ultimately never getting anything quite done.

    Also trying to lose some kg, about 5-8kg to be exact. My 30s plus some serious long-term stress has been extremely poor on my waistline and I do NOT like it.

    I think prioritizing your routines and getting those in place is a great first step to knocking out these goals. I know you can do it!

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